Asli Filinta – The Merchant and the Parrot

Posted on 13 April 2012

Turkish fashion designer, Asli Filinta who is renowned for mixing her love of fairy tales with high fashion, presents her latest whimsical collection “The Merchant and the Parrot”:

Mathnawi I: 1547-58, 1575-1577, 1586-1592, 1649-1657,
1691-1701, 1815, 1825-1832, 1845-185
1547 There (once) was a merchant. And he had a parrot, imprisoned in a cage1– a beautiful parrot.
(Now) when the merchant prepared for a journey (and) was about to travel to India,
He spoke to each male and female slave (and asked), out of generosity, “What shall I bring (back) for you? Answer quickly!”
1550 Each one asked him for something wished, (and) that good man gave (his) promise to all.
(Then) he said to the parrot, “What present from the journey do you want, so that I may bring it to you from the region of India.”
The parrot answered him,2 “When you see the parrots there,3 explain my situation (and) say,
“‘The parrot so-and-so, who is yearning to see you, is in my prison by the decree of the heavens.4
“She sends you greetings of peace and wants justice, and desires a remedy and the path of right guidance.
1555 “She said, ‘Is it proper that I, in (such a state of) yearning, should give (up my) life here (and) die in separation?
“‘Is it right that I (should be) in (such) strict bondage, while you (are) sometimes on the green grass (and) sometimes on the trees?
“‘Is the faithfulness of (true) friends like this, (that) I (am) in prison and you (are) in the rose garden?’
1558 “O great ones, bring (to mind) the memory of this weeping bird, (by drinking) a dawn cup (of wine)5 among the grassy meadows!”
. . . . . . .
1575 (Since) the story of the [ordinary] parrot of the soul is like this, where is one who is the [chosen] confidant of the birds?6
Where is a bird (who is) helpless and without sin,7 and (yet) within him (is a) Solomon8 with (his entire) army?
1577 When he cries out bitterly, (but) without gratitude or complaint, a clamor [to aid him] occurs in the seven heavens!
. . . . . . .
1586 The man of trade accepted this message (and agreed) that he would deliver the greeting from her to (her on) kind.
When he reached the farthest regions of India, he saw some parrots in a wilderness.
He held back (his) mount (from going), then gave a shout: he delivered the greeting and returned that (which he had been given in) trust.
Among those parrots, one parrot trembled greatly, fell, died, and stopped breathing.
1590 The merchant became sorry about telling (such) news, (and) he said, “I went in destruction of (that) animal.
“Is this one, perhaps, a relative of that little parrot? (Or) was this, perhaps, (a case of) two bodies and one spirit?
1592 “Why did I do this? Why did I deliver the message (and) burn up the helpless (creature) by means of this crude speech?”
. . . . . . .
1649 The merchant finished his trading (and) returned to (his) home, satisfying (the best hopes of his) friends.9
1650 He brought a present to each male slave (and) gave a share to each female slave.
The parrot said, “Where is (this) slave’s present? Tell what you saw and said!”
(The merchant) replied, “No. I am myself (very) sorry about that, (and am) chewing my hands and biting (my) fingers (over it).
“Why did I foolishly bring (such) a crude message out of ignorance and thoughtlessness?”
(The parrot) said, “O master, why are you (so) regretful? What is it that calls for (all) this anger and sorrow?”
1655 He replied, “I told your complaints to a group of your fellow parrots.
“That one parrot– her heart broke from getting wind of your pain, and she trembled and died.
1657 “I became regretful (and thought), ‘Why was (the use of) saying this?’ But since I had (already) spoken, what was the benefit of remorse?”
. . . . . . .
1691 When she heard about what that parrot did, she then trembled,10 fell, and became cold.
When the master saw her fallen like this, he jumped up and hurled (his) cap on the ground.
(And) when the master saw her with this appearance and condition, he leaped up and tore the upper front (of his robe).
He said, “O beautiful and sweet-crying parrot, what happened to you? Why did you become like this?
1695 “Oh what sorrow! My sweet-sounding bird! Oh what misery! My close companion and confidant!
“Oh what regret! My sweet-singing bird! The wine of (my) spirit, (my) garden, and my sweet basil!11
“If Solomon12 (could have) had a bird like you, he never would have become occupied with (all) those (other) birds.
“Oh what a pity! The bird which I got (so) cheaply! (Yet how) quickly I turned my face away from her face!13
“O tongue! You are a great injury to mankind!14 (But) since you are talking,15 what can I say to you?
1700 “O tongue! You are both the fire and the harvest stack. How long will you set fire16 to this harvest stack?
1701 “(My) soul is lamenting in secret because of you, even though it keeps doing everything you tell it (to do).”
. . . . . . .
1815 The merchant, in (a state of) burning, and agony, and yearning, kept saying a hundred scattered and disturbed (things) such as this.
. . . . . . .
1825 After that, he threw her out of the cage. The little parrot flew to a high branch–
The dead parrot made such a (swift) flight, (it resembled) the sun when it charges forth, like a Turk,17 from the sky [and rises up at dawn].
The merchant became bewildered by the bird’s action. All of a sudden, (still) without understanding, he saw (that there were) secrets involving the bird.
He raised his head and said, “O nightingale, share a portion (of wisdom) with us in explanation of the situation.
“What did (that parrot) do so that you learned (something), prepared a trick, and burned us (with sorrow)?”
1830 The parrot answered, “She gave me advice by her (very) action, meaning, ‘Escape18 from (attachment to) elegance of voice and joyful expansion [of your breast in song].
“‘Because your voice is keeping you in shackles.’ She herself acted dead for the sake of (sending me) this advice,
1832 “Meaning, ‘O (you who) have become a singer to (both) commoners and the elite: become “dead” like me19 so that you may find deliverance!’”
. . . . . . .
1845 The parrot gave him one or two (pieces of) advice, full of (spiritual) discrimination.20 After that, he said to him the “salaam of parting.”21
The merchant said to her, “Go in the protection of Allah. You have now shown me a new path.”
The merchant (then) said to himself, “This is the advice for me: I will take her path, for this path is luminous.
“How should my soul be inferior to a parrot? The soul ought to (follow) such as this, for it is a (very) good track (indeed)!”
The body resembles a cage.22 The body has become a thorn to the soul because of the deceptions of those (who are) inside and outside.
1850 This one tells her,23 “I am your confidant,” and that one tells her, “No, I am your companion.”
This one tells her, “There is none like you in existence with (such) beauty, and grace, goodness, and generosity.”
(And) that one tells her, “Both this world and the next are yours, (and) all our souls are the (eager) uninvited guests of your soul.”
When he sees the people drunk from (being with) him, he loses control of himself and goes (about full) of pride and arrogance.
1854 He doesn’t know that the Devil has thrown thousands (just) like him into the river’s water.24

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